Straight-bladed vertical-axis hydrokinetic turbines have a number of advantages for power extraction from river, tidal, and ocean currents. They are simple to construct, the generator does not need to be submerged, and they can have good power extraction efficiency. Among their potential disadvantages is that when the load is lost, or when they start with no load, they can reach high instantaneous blade speeds before returning to a “steady” runaway speed. These high speeds can cause high loads on the blades and must, therefore, be fully understood. This paper describes a computational investigation of the effect of inertia as a turbine starts from rest with no load and reaches runaway. Turbine inertia is modified by altering the blade density while the turbine geometry is not altered. At the minimum inertia, the added mass contributes significantly to the dynamics, and the highest overshoot occurs in blade speed. Increasing inertia damps the peak but slows the acceleration. The added mass depends on blade mass but is constant for the whole starting sequence and is independent of water speed. The results give guidance for the design of turbines to balance the minimization of the overshoot and starting time.